Getting up close and personal with Tennessee’s official state agricultural insect, the honeybee, is easier than you might think. Registered apiaries, or groups of working beehives, are no longer strictly farm-based.
For example, thanks to the Nashville Area Beekeepers Association (NABA), Nashville’s Centennial Park is now home to several beehives. Additionally, the rooftop at the Music City Center in downtown Nashville boasts four hives that visitors can see through a viewing window on the building’s fourth floor.
“In the past couple of years, our association has focused on placing beehives in prominent places so people can get a good look at honeybees and, ideally, understand them a little better,” says Gene Armstrong, president of NABA. A nonprofit organization, the association works to recruit and train beekeepers, educate the public, and provide assistance with honeybee colony removal and relocation across Middle Tennessee. “We call these ‘showcase hives,’ and our No. 1 goal when placing hives in public places is to help raise awareness,” he says.
One of the NABA’s best-known relocation projects began in 2018 at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, where a honeybee colony took over a dead, hollow tree that was in danger of falling on President Jackson’s tomb. NABA moved a large portion of the tree – now called the Andrew Jackson Tree – to the Ellington Agricultural Center, a working farm located 10 miles south of downtown Nashville that serves as headquarters for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
Today, the Andrew Jackson Tree is a permanent part of the Ellington Agricultural Center’s apiary. Visitors can see thousands of bees in action and have the opportunity to learn more about them from a safe distance. In turn, the bees help pollinate nearby farms and gardens, including the Ellington Agricultural Center’s Cul2vate farm that grows produce for those in need.
“About one-third of everything we eat is dependent on pollination by insects, primarily honeybees, so it’s easy to see how important bees are to our food supply,” Armstrong says. “It’s crucial that we all work together and do our part to ensure honeybees are safe and have access to a continuous, diverse supply of food so they can thrive.”
Honey: A Substitute for Sugar
Did you know that honey can be used instead of sugar in certain recipes? Here are some tips on substituting honey in recipes for baked goods:
• Honey is sweeter, so use about one-third to one-half as much honey as you would sugar.
• 12 ounces of honey equals one cup, as containers are measured in weight, not volume.
• Lower your oven temperature by 25 degrees when substituting honey.
• Coat your utensils with cooking spray to prevent the honey from sticking to measuring cups or spoons.
• If the recipe doesn’t include sour milk or sour cream, add a pinch of baking soda to counteract the acidity in honey, which can cause over-browning.
See more: Helping Tennessee Beehives Thrive